Texas: “Surprisingly barren writer state”

According to a recent post on the Publishers Weekly blog, rating each of the United States based on their literary heavyweights, Texas had its proverbial ten-gallon hat handed to it. Here’s the quote:

“Along with Pennsylvania, Texas is the most surprisingly barren writer state. Who knew?”

Pointing to Texas’ sole kick-ass writer (Katherine Anne Porter), the post’s author (Gabe Habash), gives us the gears… without admitting where his own literary loyalties actually lie.

Poor form, dude.

Okay, so as someone who is in no way a native Texan (“but I got here as quick as I could!” as the bumper stickers proclaim), I’m not as testy about this testimony as, say, a reader and librarian like Laura Bush might be, but still. Katherine Anne Porter isn’t the only writer the great state of Texas has to offer the literary minded, although she’s certainly a good pick—especially amongst all those dead white dudes. (And no, I’m not about to suggest that Mrs. Bush’s husband is in any way on my list of “Must Reads.”)

But… what about the man UT Austin’s infamous literary school is named after, James A. Michener? What about Cormac McCarthy? (PW points out he now lives in New Mexico, but was born in Rhode Island, so which state gets to claim him? I say we do. Rhode Island didn’t inspire him to write about life and death, did it?)

Not to mention…

  • Larry McMurtry, author of the classic western Lonesome Dove
  • Molly Ivins, queen of skewering Dubya (among others) with her liberal reportage, and
  • O. Henry, inventor of the twist ending

Seriously, PW: We imprisoned O. Henry on bank fraud charges, AND we own his house. It’s hardly fair that some pansy state like North Carolina gets to claim him, given the fact that it was his stint in the joint that got him started writing in the first place.

Honestly, this list is whack, and I’m sure anyone from Texas will agree. In fact, I’m putting together an anthology that will show this blogger just how wrong he is about our literary heritage!

If you’re from Austin — or have ever visited, or wanted to — I’m putting together a digital anthology about the “weirdest” city in Texas. The Austin Writers Anthology will feature established writers as well as awesome up-and-comers. As an added bonus, it’ll also banish the notion that Texas is a “barren” literary state.

Got a story to tell? Bring it on! Full submission info is available here. I look forward to reading your work, and proving Publishers Weekly wrong!

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